Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List is the historical account of Oskar Schindler and his heroic actions in the midst of the horrors of World War II Poland. Schindler’s List recounts the life of Oskar Schindler, and how he comes to Poland in search of material wealth but leaves having saved the lives of over 1100 Jews who would most certainly have perished. The novel focuses on how Schindler comes to the realization that concentration and forced labor camps are wrong, and that many people were dying through no fault of their own. This realization did not occur overnight, but gradually came to be as the business man in Oskar Schindler turned into the savior of the Jews that had brought him so much wealth. Schindler’s List is not just a biography of Oskar Schindler, but it is the story of how good can overcome evil and how charity can overcome greed.
Schindler’s List begins with the early life of Oskar Schindler. The novel describes his early family life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his adolescence in the newly created state of Czechoslovakia. It tells of his relationship with his father, and how his father left his mother. His mother is also described in great detail. Like many Germans in the south, she was a devout Catholic. She is described as being very troubled that her son would take after her estranged husband with his negligence of Catholicism. Oskar never forgave Hans, his father, for his abandonment of his mother , which is ironic considering that Oskar would do the same with his wife Emilie. In fact Hans and Oskar Schindler’s lives would become so much in parallel that the novel describes their relationship as “that of brothers separated by the accident of paternity.'; Oskar’s relationship with Emilie is also described in detail as is their marriage. The heart of the novel begins in October 1939 when Oskar Schindler comes to the Polish city of Cracow. It has been six weeks since the German’s took the city, and Schindler sees great opportunity as any entrepreneur would. For Schindler, Cracow represents a place of unlimited possibilities because of the current economic disorder and cheap labor. Upon his arrival in Cracow he meets Itzak Stern, a Jewish bookkeeper. Schindler is very impressed with Stern because of his business prowess and his connections in the business community. Soon Schindler and Stern are on t...
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...day than the total number of Jews in 1945 Poland. This statistical fact shows how greatly Schindler, who died in 1974, will be missed. Perhaps Keneally shares the Schindlerjuden’s remorse for their savior by the way he ends his novel. Keneally ends the novel with the somber line, “He was mourned on every continent.';
Schindler’s List had a great effect on me personally. I thought that Thomas Keneally did an excellent job in making the reader feel the events of the time. Perhaps what I found to be most interesting in Schindler’s List is a question of morality. I began asking myself the question, would I be as heroic as Oskar Schindler if I were in his shoes? I think that this is exactly what Keneally wanted us to do; he wanted us to look at ourselves and analyze what’s inside. Historically, I find Schindler’s List to be very important not only because it is tells of a shameful time in western civilization, but also because the events that took place in the novel occurred only yesterday. After all fifty years is almost nothing in historical terms. Perhaps the novel’s greatest strength is this feeling that the events that transpired in Schindler’s List are in fact modern history.
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